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The Far North

Northumbria - Northumberland Coast

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After a quieter day yesterday, our last full day was busier, as we were headed up the Northumberland Coast as far as the Scottish Border.

We began by heading to Bamburgh Castle, viewing from both the beautiful sandy beach, as well as from the village, where the castle (which sits on a hill between there and sea) creates a beautiful imposing backdrop.

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

After a brief stop we headed north to Berwick-upon-Tweed, the last town before the Scottish Border. The town had historically been Scottish, and still gives it's name to the area north of the border.

Berwick-upon-Tweed

Berwick-upon-Tweed

The town still has intact city walls by the estuary of the River Tweed, which we walked along around half of.

Berwick was surprisingly pretty, despite not really knowing much about what it had to offer before we visited.

Our next stop was just around the corner, at the border - the second one we were visiting this weekend. This time however we would stop, and the laybys were signed as tourist spots. This was (almost) the northernmost point in England, in the far north - Newcastle is 1h20mins south, and London is over 6 hours away. Whilst Edinburgh, capital of Scotland is a little over an hour north.

Scottish Border

Scottish Border

After stopping at the entrance to Scotland, we did a U-turn at the next junction, and stopped at the layby on the other side, welcoming us (back) into England.

We were now heading south again and towards one of the top places on my list for this weekend - Lindisfarne/Holy Island. To get to the island we had to drive along a causeway, which was now accessible due to low tide.

The Causeway

The Causeway

Driving along the causeway was a strange experience, and on the north side of Holy Island it was still very tidal. Eventually after around 5 minutes we arrived at the car park to the village, which felt like the entrance to a tourist attraction, rather than to a place people actually live! Although with the majority of people being tourists, it didn't exactly feel like a village.

We started with a visit to the war memorial, with views over the bay and the Priory, which was temporarily closed due to Covid, before we walked along the coast to the Castle, which like many in this area had imposing views.

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

It had been a long day so far with lots of castles and scenery, and we had one last one to visit on the way back - Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick is another pretty small town with an imposing castle, and even though by now we had seen many similar, this was still worth stopping by.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

After a long day of exploring, we headed back to the hotel for our final evening.

The following day we checked out of the hotel and headed home, stopping by Newton Aycliffe to visit some friends before heading back home.

Northumbria had been very pretty, and compared to Cornwall, which is actually nearer from here, it was much easier to get to, as it was nearly Motorway from start to finish, and even when not, it had pretty good roads. Although obviously colder as it was further north it was still a nice getaway.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 02:58 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scotland coast island castle border causeway northumbria Comments (0)

On the Amalfi Coast

Limoncello Adventures - Capri & Positano

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During the planning for this trip, the Amalfi coast was originally overlooked, however after seeing how beautiful it was, we decided we simply had to make room for it amongst the trip.

After our first evening in Sorrento, we arose early for breakfast, before heading down to catch the ferry over to Capri, which was now running on a winter schedule.

Capri Harbour

Capri Harbour

Just 40 minutes later we had arrived on the small touristy island, and quickly bought our tickets for the island tour that was leaving shortly after, and then boarded the small boat. Like a duck we had spent little time on land so far!

Cliffs around Capri

Cliffs around Capri

Moving around and settling on back row seats, we then headed out of the harbour clockwise, past the cliffs and grottos before we made it to the Faraglioni - sea stacks just off the coast, through which we sailed.

Faraglioni

Faraglioni

We then headed around the south of the island, taking in the November sun, and with views of the south side of Capri town and the hills of Anacapri.

South side of Capri town

South side of Capri town

We then headed in to the Grotto Verde, which had beautiful blue water, before heading around the lighthouse towards the northern side with views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius.

Grotto Verde

Grotto Verde

After heading past the Blue Grotto, which was closed due to the high tide and rough seas, we then landed back in Capri harbour and explored the town.

Capri Town

Capri Town

Walking up the hill, being thankful we didn't visit in July, we eventually arrived in the town square, which was full of people. After walking around and viewing the beautiful views of the island from the vantage point around the corner, we then walked back down the hill before catching the ferry back to Sorrento.

Sorrento from the ferry

Sorrento from the ferry

As we had headed out early, we had enough time to spend the afternoon on the Amalfi coast. We therefore headed quickly through the town to the station to catch the bus to Positano, which we boarded not long later.

The bus headed up through the winding hills with beautiful views over the Bay of Naples, before long we were over the top of the hills and heading back down the hillside with views over the Amalfi Coast. The roads were once again windy, and along the coastline they were particularly spectacular, also being perched up on the cliff side.

Cliffside roads

Cliffside roads

After a beautiful drive we soon arrived on the edge of Positano, where we left the bus with views over the beautiful town's gorge, which we then started to head down. Numerous staircases later we entered the heart of the town, where even in November it was full of tourists. Being on the south coast it had glorious sunshine, where there were no mountains to hide the winter sun.

Steep staircases of Positano

Steep staircases of Positano


Positano beach

Positano beach

We took a walk down to the beach, where the scale of the mountains becomes evident, before walking back through the town and on to the bus stop for our return to Sorrento. The buses were pretty busy, and as we arrived at the point where the winter schedule skips a bus, by the time it showed up it was full! Luckily we got a space, but it meant standing room only all the way back to Sorrento.

After almost an hour, the lack of room and constant turns started to give us both travel sickness, but in the nick of time we arrived back in Sorrento and into the fresh air. With today being a busy day we decided to grab pizza from a pizzeria so that we could then chill for the rest of the day. However as it wasn't yet 6pm, there was almost nowhere open!

After walking all around the town, we eventually found a take away close to our hotel, but they wouldn't be ready to serve for another half hour. Therefore we headed back to our hotel for a rest and to drop our bits off, before collecting the pizza later. Eventually grabbing dinner, we then spent the rest of the evening chilling before more excitement tomorrow.

Posted by kmmk17 10:15 Archived in Italy Tagged hills boat coast beach island limoncello Comments (0)

Summer in Sorrento

Limoncello Adventures - Sorrento

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After last year's autumn holiday was postponed, this year we decided to make sure we weren't bored in the Autumn by reviving the plans to visit the Naples area. I had wanted to visit Pompeii for some time, and after some research had seen it was easy to get to Naples, and spend a weekend in the area which was also very beautiful.

After juggling the dates and settling on staying in Sorrento, which in off season was relatively cheap, we headed off on what ended up being one of the many busy Autumn weekends this year. We had an early morning flight on the Friday and after taking off the first drama began...

One of the passengers sat near us had a seizure and collapsed, lying unconscious on the floor. After the flight attendants called for any medically trained passengers on the flight to come over it was decided she was not well enough to make it all the way to Naples as we were still over Germany. Therefore an emergency landing was planned and we were now headed for Milan! She then woke back up and spent the rest of the flight throwing up before we landed safely.

Emergency Landing in Milan

Emergency Landing in Milan

Upon landing she started making a call to her friends to pick her up once she was through immigration, still out of it, and being the only person the flight who didn't know we were actually in Milan. The medics quickly boarded to help her off, but she was having none of it. She complained that they should have just taken her to Naples, and the medics agreed - whilst the flight attendants pointed out that she was not in that condition in the air. After standing their ground and threatening to get the police to remove her if she didn't go with the medics, she eventually left and after refuelling we were able to take off, only an hour and a half behind schedule.

Eventually arriving in Naples at lunchtime, we quickly made our way through the airport to catch the next shuttle transfer bus directly to Sorrento. The small minibus was almost full already, but there was enough space for us, and we were soon leaving the crazy traffic of Naples behind for the crazy roads of the Sorrentine Peninsula.

After a somewhat stressful and cramped hour's journey, we were finally in our base for the weekend. After checking in and dropping off our bits at the hotel we then headed off on a short walk around the small tourist town.

Cliffs on the Bay of Naples

Cliffs on the Bay of Naples

We began by heading towards the cliffs that impose over the coastline, overlooking the Bay of Naples, with views of Mount Vesuvius.

Views of Vesuvius across the bay

Views of Vesuvius across the bay


Sorrento

Sorrento

After walking along the coastline we then headed into the heart of the town, grabbed food in a local restaurant before walking amongst the local streets by night.

The heart of Sorrento

The heart of Sorrento

The last thing to do tonight was to stop via the supermarket for some snacks and drinks before chilling for the evening of a long day.

Posted by kmmk17 09:43 Archived in Italy Tagged hills coast airport city plane drama limoncello Comments (0)

Following Finn McCool

Ireland - Causeway Coast

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With Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK I had yet to visit, it has always been on my list as somewhere to visit. And with Brexit just around the corner causing uncertainty as to how this tense and unique part of the country will look in the not too distant future, we decided to quickly pay a visit and literally walk out of the UK at an unmarked border whilst we still could!

With the weather always being unpredictable, expecting rain constantly, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive to a warm and sunny morning at Belfast Airport.

With the first part of the trip being about seeing the north coast and the Irish border, we hired a car from the airport, being much cheaper than taking our own over on the ferry, and after picking it up we headed out to our first stop, just up the road in Antrim.

We stopped by the shores of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles. The legend states that Finn McCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill), a legend in Irish Mythology, was fighting with a Scottish rival, and scooped a bit of land to throw at him - missed, and this formed the Isle of Man, whilst the missing earth flooded and created the lough. This seems highly unlikely, but nevertheless it was a nice spot to stop after getting used to the car, looking over the lake, which was so big that the other side could not even be seen.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh

After getting back in the car, we then stopped by the Tesco in Antrim to stock up on some supplies, before we made the decision to head up to the north coast today.

After an hour or so driving through the Antrim countryside, we made it to the port town of Ballycastle, where surprisingly the beautiful blue skies had disappeared amongst the mist clinging over the town. worrying, as our first site was on 15 minutes down the road, where we had hoped to obtain views over the Straits of Moyle in the North Channel over to Scotland. As we drove around the hilly rural roads towards Torr Head, with the weather clearing, we found a good vantage point, where it was just possible to see the Mull of Kintyre. Guessing that it would likely be no better down the road, we decided to stop here, enjoy the views, and then continue on our way along the Causeway coast.

Straits of Moyle

Straits of Moyle


Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Our next stop was just half an hour up the road - the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge is a modern version of the traditional bridge in use for almost 400 years to connect a rocky island just off the coast to the mainland, at 30 metres above the sea level below. Upon arrival it was quite busy, being a major stop of the tourist trail, and as we walked the twenty minutes down the beautiful coastline we passed many tourists - mostly Germans and Spanish.

Causeway Coast

Causeway Coast

When we got to the bridge itself there was a little wait, as only 8 people can cross at once - however it didn't take too long before we made it to the other side.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

After returning back to the car, we headed out for another 20 minute drive along the coast towards the jewel in the crown - the Giant's Causeway. However as we left the car park we were stuck behind a German tourist coach, then then proceeded to take the same roads as us, clearly taking the Germans to the causeway too.

Eventually we arrived at the car park for the causeway, and after taking a look at the visitor's centre, we made our way down the coast to the shore, where we could walk along the causeway itself. The legend of it's creation is that Finn McCool (yes, him again) built a causeway to fight a Scottish giant, destroying it upon his return. In reality it's of volcanic origin (with similar landforms in Iceland amongst others) and these are the last bits to remain above sea level, uneroded.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Although busy, the area is big enough to still enjoy it in it's full glory, and with the blocks forming steps it was also super easy to get around.

On the Causeway

On the Causeway

As we started to leave the area, we were stopped by a pushy Russian-American who wanted a photo. Before even answering he has given me his camera and directed how I should take the panoramic photo of his family on the rocks. Cutting out the signpost I swooped around, before stopping to cut out the tourist who had just walked into the area. Handing it back to him he then wanted another one, this time wider, and with less rocks - to which his wife smirked "that's what we're here to see". Next thing I was back taking yet another photo for this rude man. Thankfully he didn't want another perfect photo and we quickly made our mistake back up the hill.

As we got back to the car, it was another relatively short drive to our accommodation for the night - a B&B on the outskirts of Derry, close to the border with the republic. We arrived and checked in, before heading out to get dinner. We did however quickly stop by the village of Muff, just across the border. As we couldn't drive across due to the terms of our rental agreement, we parked up just metres away, and walked across the border, where the only sign of the border was a change in speed (km/h instead of mph) and signs welcoming us to County Donegal.

Muff

Muff

We then made our way to the local McDonald's to grab some food, before we went back to our B&B. We then went for a walk just 15 metres down the road where the rural track crosses the border. Even less noticeable than in Muff - just a solitary speed sign at a stream. As we walked back it occurred to us just how arbitrary this really is, and how deeply affected this part of the word is going to become should Brexit not work out well.

Chris over the border

Chris over the border

After a long day, it was now time to finally sleep, and tomorrow we would explore Derry before making our way back to Belfast.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:50 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills coast borders lake ireland island border geology geography Comments (0)

"The Nine Apostles"

RTW - Southern Australia

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Having flown in from Hong Kong overnight I arrived on a fresh Monday morning in Melbourne to meet up with my Australian relatives who I hadn't seen for over 10 years!

As they lived in Mount Gambier, we then left Melbourne (which I would return to explore 10 days later) and drove towards South Australia.

This meant that we could see some of the sights of Victoria too, including the Great Ocean Road, with some Geographical Landscapes that are reminiscent of the Jurrasic Coast in Dorset. The highlight of this area being the Twelve Apostles - eight stacks standing just off the coast caused by erosion.

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

After taking lunch in Port Campbell, and heading off to Warrnambool for the night my exhaustion finally caught up with me and I ended up being too tired to eat!

After staying overnight in Warrnambool, we finally arrived back in Mount Gambier the following afternoon. On the following day I took my first rest day of the trip, having a long lie in followed by catching up with all the bits and bobs I was unable to do before, such as registering for graduation.

Family Day Out

Family Day Out

After this rest, the following day I went off the visit more relatives who I hadn't seen for 13 years, and was given a tour around the town centre. After another day of resting we had reached the weekend, and we had a day out to the seaside, before a family meal and a barbeque inside the volcano, where I got to meet almost all my Australian relations.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

The following week was very similar. I went and joined my aunty at work in the morning, before going out with my cousins to some caves just over the border back in Victoria, as well as saying my goodbyes to my family before leaving back for Melbourne.

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Having said goodbye to most of my relatives, and accidentally killing a kangaroo en route, we headed off towards Sovereign Hill, an 1850s Gold Mine open air museum, giving me some insight into colonial culture.

Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill

Heading off nice and early, we eventually arrived in Melbourne on the following day. After dropping my stuff off at the hostel in the very centre of the city, we headed off to the markets where I bought some cheap souvenirs and spent the last few hours with my relatives.

Neighbours

Neighbours

I then headed off towards the eastern suburbs of the city to find the street where Neighbours is filmed before heading back into the centre.

Flinders Street

Flinders Street

Taking the free city tour bus I saw all the sights in the city, including Flinders Street Station and the South Bank, as well as using the free tram around the centre.

Melbourne CBD

Melbourne CBD

Whilst the weather itself was not actually that cold, having acclimatised to 30 degrees for two weeks it did come as a bit of a shock, but the area was very nice and I managed to see wild Kangaroos as well as a Koala and emus. It was bizarre to think I was now the furthest I had ever been from home, and yet in many ways it was the most similar! Though the internal quarantine, varying time zones and different dialects did show some differences!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Australia Tagged animals coast city rural family rtw Comments (0)

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